Video Gaming has become a major part of our culture. Today, whether played individually or in groups (whether locally or via the internet) gaming has become as much a part of our culture as professional sports or television. Mario and Halo amongst other games have established themselves as bona fide cultural icons.
I’m a picky gamer. My personal preferred genre is turn-based, historical strategy/tactical wargames. A mouthful, huh? Why do I like these games so much?
- They offer an educational experience with (generally) highly detailed maps and historically accurate units and commanders.
- They offer a intellectually stimulating experience require the use of significant analytical skills to determine the best methods to victory.
- They offer significantly more hours of gameplay than most other genres of games, especially simple-one path games like most first person shooters (FPS).
Within this genre one game that stands out as an excellent example and worthwhile purchase as an entertaining and educational resource is Creative Assembly‘s Medieval II: Total War. This game is part of a old (in gaming years) and venerable line of “Total War” games beginning with Shogun: Total War and most recently culminating in Empire: Total War. While the graphics and artificial intelligence have improved with the years, the basic gameplay has stayed remarkably the same.
Each Total War game represents a distinct historical period – in the instance of Medieval the period is somewhat obvious – it covers the medieval time period (e.g. crusades, early discovery of the new world). One takes command of any of a variety of historical nations and oversees one’s countries progress – first at a strategic level that includes town management, technology development, political negotiations, and military recruitment. Then when combat occurs one has the choice to enter into the tactical arena and to command one’s troops in beautifully rendered 3D worlds through a pausable real-time interface (bringing the best of cinematic historical combat with the intellectual challenge of turn-based combat).
I’ve never exhausted the bounds of a Total War game. Playing as each nation is a unique experience. Each nation has its own unique historical advantages and disadvantages (e.g. England must rely upon naval power while nations in Eastern Europe face continuous threats to varied influxing enemies) and playing through a single nation’s history in a single game can be a process of scores – if not hundreds of hours. Medieval II: Total War is not a game one sits down and plays in a day or a week or even a month – its meant to last month after month (for the casual, moderate gamer) and then one has only finished the game as that nation!
Medieval II: Total War also have a worthwhile expansion pack called Kingdoms which retrofits some features in Medieval II: Total War along with adding several additional campaigns (each of which could be a game in and of itself) including the Crusades, Americas (early conquistadors, inter-tribal warfare), Teutonic, and Britannia.
MII:TW is now available at bargain prices…as are older titles in the same series. So go to Amazon and grab both titles for less than $20 (the cost of two movie tickets, or four dvd rentals): Medieval II Gold Pack (Total War, Total War Kingdoms). Yes, of course, I get a referral fee – but seriously – these games are awesome.